Restaurant and Food-service Industry: 2024 Outlook

Restaurant and food-service industry sales are forecast to top $1 trillion for the first time in history, and the nation’s second-largest private sector employer is on track to add 200,000 jobs, pushing total employment to 15.7 million people, according to the 2024 State of the Restaurant Industry Report from the National Restaurant Association.

Operators are relying more on technology to meet challenges, to reduce labor, cut costs and boost business, applying tech solutions to marketing, recruiting, accounting, inventory management and more. But given a choice between people and technology, consumers continue to crave human hospitality in their culinary experiences.

Key findings of the report include:

Restaurants are hiring: The industry workforce is projected to grow by 200,000 jobs, for total industry employment of 15.7 million by the end of 2024. Some 45% of operators need more employees to meet customer demand.

Competition is strong: This year, 45% of operators expect competition to be more intense than last year.

Costs are up: Higher labor costs are an issue for their restaurant, 98% of operators say; 97% cite higher food costs; 38% say their restaurants were not profitable last year.

Consumers are value conscious: Nearly half of consumers are taking a wait-and-see stance when it comes to spending. Operators who offer a solid value proposition for dining out can nudge customers out of their holding pattern.

Consumers love restaurants: Nine in 10 adults say they enjoy going to restaurants, which allow them to enjoy a favorite meal that has flavor and taste sensations they can’t easily replicate at home.

Source: National Restaurant Association.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.